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THE EVOLUTION OF AMERICAN NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY SINCE THE END OF SECOND WORLD WAR

THE EVOLUTION OF AMERICAN NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY SINCE THE END OF SECOND WORLD WAR

THE UNIVERSITY OF HULL

Department of Politics

Comparative National Security Policy

THE EVOLUTION OF AMERICAN NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY

SINCE THE END OF SECOND WORLD WAR

By:

Jonas Daniliauskas

Tutor:

Eric J. Grove

March 10, 1995

The Introduction.

The aim of this work is to account for the evolution of the American

national security policy since the end of the World War II.

Charles Kegley divided the history of the American foreign policy of

containing the Soviet Union into the five chronologically ordered phases:

1. Belligerence, 1947-1952

2. Tough Talk, Accomodative Action, 1953-1962

3. Competetive Coexistence, 1963-1968

4. Detente, 1969-1978

5. Confrontation, 1979 onwards[1]

The same pattern fits for the US national security policy quite well.

Only some additions must be introduced. The period of confrontation ended

in 1986. The period between 1987 and 1990 could be called Ending the Cold

War, and the period from 1991 onwards - The Post-Cold War Era. The

period between 1945 and 1946 could be named Toward Containment.

So, the goal of the US national security policy for nearly forty

years was the containment of the Soviet Union by all possible means.

But in the 1991 the US founded itself in the confusing situation. The

major threat - the SU - simply dissapeared. The US left the only

superpower. There are no large specific military threats facing the US. The

US national security policy must be changed, and it is changing. The

problem is that there is no clear consensus in the US over the threats to

the security and economic well-being of the US.[2]

Toward Containment, 1945-1946.

The World War II showed that the US must change its role in the world

politics. The World War II reafirmed that the US could not pretend to be

immune from the global turmoil and gave birth to the notion of the US as a

superpower.[3] The first problem was how to deal with the Soviets. The

immediate postwar American policy towards the SU was based on the belief

that the SU could be integrated in the postwar security structure.

President Roosevelt developed the Four Policemen idea, which was based on

the vision that the US, Great Britain, the SU, and China would impose order

on the rest of the postwar world.[4] But in fact, experience showed that

there was little the US could do to shape Stalins decisions. It was

realized that neither trust nor pressure had made any difference.[5] In

less than a year President Truman realized that the Soviets would expand as

far as they could unless effective countervailing power was organized to

stop them.[6] Stalin obviously placed a higher value on expanding the

Soviet sphere of control then on maintaining good relations with the US.[7]

Many American defense officials in 1945 hoped to avoid the escalation

with the SU. But at the same time their aim was to prevent Europe from

falling under Communist regime. The American objective was to avoid Soviet

hegemony over Eurasia.[8] In winter 1945-1946 the SU increased pressures on

Iran and Turkey. The US viewed this as a threat to the global balance of

power. The battleship Missouri was sent to Istanbul.

In October 1945 the first postwar base system was approved by both

the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the civilian secretaries. It included

Iceland as a primary base area. So, when Winston Churchill delivered his

famous Iron Curtain speech in March 1946, the US was on the path of the

Cold War allready.

In fact, the origins of the Cold War were in Europe. Martin Walker

wrote: The Cold War started in Europe because it was there that US and

Soviet troops met in May 1945, over the corpse of Nazi Germany, and

discovered that their concepts of Europes postwar future were dangerously

incopatible.[9]

Five Stages of Containment:

1. Belligerence, 1947-1952. There are different opinions about the date

when the Cold War began. In fact, there is no date of the begining of the

Cold War. It didnt begin in one night. It began step by step. And it

began from both sides.

In February 1946, Stalin gave a speech in which he spoke about the

inevitability of conflict with the capitalist powers.[10]

On February 22, 1946, George F.Kennan, at that time charge daffaires

in the US embassy in Moscow, sent to Washington his famous long telegram

assessing the motivations of the Soviets. Later he published his well-known

article X in the Foreign Affairs (1947). In it, Kennan argued that Soviet

leaders would forever feel insecure about their political ability to

maintain power against forces both within Soviet society andin the outside

world. Their insecurity would lead to an activist - and perhaps hostile -

Soviet foreign policy.[11]

In March 1947, the Truman Doctrine was announced. This was a

dramatic departure from traditional US foreign, defense, and security

policy. It was based on a view of international politics as a contest for

world domination, with the SU as an imperial power bent on world

conquest.[12]

This was the start of containment policy. Containment was designed to

circumscribe Soviet expansionism in order to (1) save the international

system from a revolutionary state, and (2) force internal changes in the

SU.[13] Containment was a desired condition in US-Soviet relations. It was

a geopolitical rather than ideological or military strategy. Its ultimate

objective was a stable and peaceful international system.[14]

Soon the first results of the containment appeared. The National

Security Act (1947) created a unified Department of Defense with an

autonomous Air Force, a Joint Chiefs of Staff system, the Central

Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Council.[15] In June 1947,

the Marshall Plan for the economic recovery of Europe was announced.

In July 1947, intelligence analysts in the War Department maintained

that the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan provoked a more aggresive

Soviet attitude toward the US.[16] So, the result of the beginning of

containment was the escalation.

Another step to deeper hostility was the document called NSC-68

(approved by President Truman on September 30, 1950). NSC-68 was designed

to (1) bolster the conventional capabilities, (2) strenghten the strategic

nuclear forces, (3) assist the US allies, especially in Europe.[17]

The aim of NSC-68 was to check and roll back the Kremlins drive for

world domination.[18]

The first military attempt to contain the communism was the Korean

War (1950), which had pushed the budget appropriations for defense up to a

peak of almost $57 billion (67 per cent of the whole budget) for fiscal

year 1952.[19] The Korean War marked a globalisation of containment in

terms of operational commitments as well as rhetoric.[20]

This period was also marked by the creation of North Atlantic Treaty

Organisation (NATO). The NATO Pact was signed in April 1949. This was open-

ended, multilateral, peacetime alliance among the US, Canada, and West

European nations that commited the US to consider an attack on any member

nation as an attack on itself.[21] The creation of NATO was a response to

Soviet actions in Czekoslovakia, Berlin, and Greece.

Also the US signed bilateral mutual defense treaties with Japan and

the Philippines and a trilateral pact with Australia and New Zealand (the

ANZUS Treaty). All three were signed in 1951.

2. Tough Talk, Accomodative Action, 1953-1962. This was the period of the

American superiority in terms of the nuclear capabilities. But President

Eisenhover understood that American resources are not endless. The idea of

his policy was security and solvency - to regain American initiative in

foreign policy without bankrupting the nation.[22] His policy had two

elements. The first was New Look defense policy, and second - the

formation of a global alliance system.

The New Look was based on three concepts: rollback,

brinkmanship,and massive retaliation.[23]

Rollback stated the goal the US was to pursue: reject merely

containing the spread of communist influence and instead roll back the

iron curtain.[24]

Brinkmanship was a strategy for dealing with the Soviets by backing

them into the corner with the threat of nuclear amihilation.[25]

Massive retaliation was a countervalue nuclear weapons strategy that

sought to achieve American foreign policy objectives by threatening mass

destruction of the Soviet population and industrial centers.[26]

All this was called compellence strategy, which lasted until1961.

In the early 1960s the American superiority declined. This pushed

towards deterrence strategy. Deterrence means discouraging an adversary

from taking military action by convincing him that the cost and risk of

such action would outweight the potential gain.[27] The concept of flexible

response was formulated. It means the increase of conventional war

capabilities. In 1962 the capacity to wage two-and-one-half wars was

embraced as the official strategy.[28]

The formation of the global alliance system continued. The US signed

bilateral agreements with South Korea (1953), the Republic of China

(Taiwan) (1954), Iran (1959), Pakistan (1959), and Turkey (1959). In 1954

South East Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO) was created. In 1959 the US

became a member of Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO).

Also the Middle East became the area of concern, especially after the

Suez crizis (1956). Fear of Communist incursions in this area led to the

formulation of Eisenhower Doctrine.[29]

Of course, the most important event during this period was the Cuban

crisis (1962). It was the most dangerous event of the Cold War, and a good

lesson for the officials of both superpowers. A nuclear exchange was so

close that both White House and Kremlin officials frankly expected the

bombs to fall.[30] They recognized that the superpowers must change their

policies.

3. Competetive Coexistence, 1963-1968. Because of growing parity of

American and Soviet military capabilities the fact was that the

alternatives were coexistence or noncoexistence.[31] The powers began to

look for the ways to coexistence. One of the first signs was the

instaliation of the hot line linking the White House and the Kremlin With

a direct communication system in 1963. Also a number of agreements were

negotiated: The Antarctic Treaty (1959), The Partial Test Ban Treaty

(1963), The Outer Space Treaty (1967), The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

(1968). All this paved the way towards detente.

4. Detente, 1969-1978. Detente - a policy and a process designed to relax

tensions between the superpowers.[32] Nixon and Kissinger viewed detente as

yet another in a long series of attempts to contain the power and the

influence of the SU.[33]

In July 1969, the Nixon Doctrine was declared. There were three major

points: (1) that the US will keep all of its treaty commitments; (2) that

the US will provide a shield if a nuclear power threatens the freedom of a

allied nation; and (3) that the US will furnish military and economic

assistance when requested in accordance with treaty commitments.[34]

The first real step in implementation of the Nixon Doctrine was the

gradual withdrawal of American troops from South Vietnam. Nixon also

reduced the two-and-one-half war strategy to a one-and-one-half war

strategy.

There were two requirements for implementing detente: (1) to engage

the SU in serious negotiations; (2) the concept of linkage .[35]

Detente led to a series of negotiations and signing of treaties. The

Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) was signed in 1972, the Vladivostok

Accords - in 1974, the Helsinki Agreement - in 1975, and SALT II - in 1979

(SALT II was never ratified by the Congress).

At the same time the more serious doubts about mutual assured

destruction strategy (MAD) arose. Early in 1974, President Nixon signed

National Security Decision Memorandum (NSDM)-242. This was the shift of

emphasis away from the MAD strike options in the strategic war plans toward

more limited and flexible options designed to control escalation and

neutralize any Soviet advantage.[36]

Another important issue was China. During the late 1960s, both Nixon

and Kissinger had reached the conclusion that it would not be wise to leave

China permanently isolated.[37] Also it became clear that the split between

the SU and the China was real.[38] Recognition of the Peoples Republic of

China and full diplomatic relations with the Beijing goverment took effect

on January 1, 1979.

Carter came into office in January 1977. In general, the Carter

administration continued the same strategy as Nixon. But some changes were

introduced. The Carter administration emphasized a more global agenda,

concentrating on regional issues, the North-South relationship, the

economic interdependence of the industrial democracies, and human rights.

Another important departure was a renewed emphasis on moralism in US

policy.[39]

The end of detente was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December

1979. Ronald Sullivan pointed out: The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

finally closed the door on the policy experiment known as detente.[40]

5. Confrontation, 1979-1986. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan opened the

new period of the US-Soviet relations. Confrontation rather than

accomodation had once again become the dominant mode of interaction between

the superpowers.[41]

Even before that the first signs of confrontation appeared. Carter

Doctrine (1979) declared: an attempt by any outside force to gain control

of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital

interests of the USA.[42] So, the invasion was regarded as an assault.

Carter Doctrine also underlined the importance of Rapid Deployment Force

(RDF), which was created in December 1979.

In 1981 Ronald Reagan assumed office. His administration began to

pursue much more anti-Communist policy. The keys to the Reagan foreign

policy were to be: military and economic revitalization, revival of

alliances, stable progress in the Third World, and a firm Soviet policy

based on Russian reciprocity and restraint.[43]

In March 1983 President Reagan announced Strategic Defense Initiative

(SDI), also known as Star Wars. The US shifted the focus from offense to

defense. The new strategy suggested a profound shift in US nuclear strategy

away from reliance on offensive missiles to deter an attack - that is, from

dependence on MAD, which Reagan deemed morally unacceptable.[44]

The new strategy led to a major increase in defense spending. Real

spending in fiscal year 1985 was over 50 per cent greater than in fiscal

year 1980.[45] Reagan administration also focused its atention on regional

problems. In 1983, a new joint service command - CENTCOM - was established

to deal specifically with contingents in Southwest Asia. By early 1986, a

new element of strategy informally known as the Reagan Doctrine had

appeared. This policy sought to roll back Soviet and Cuban gains in the

Third World by active support of liberation movements in areas such as

Nicaragua, Angola, and Afghanistan.[46]

During this period the relations between the superpowers were highly

escalated. But situation changed when Gorbachev came to power in the SU in

1985.

Ending the Cold War, 1987-1990.

Gorbachevs Novoye Myshlenniye or New Thinking in international

affairs was first spelt out at the Geneva summit with President Reagan in

October 1985, when they agreed in principle to work towards a Strategic

Arms Reduction Treaty to cut their nuclear arsenals in half.[47]

Probably the most radical summit was the Reykjavik summit in October

1986. Despite that fact that no agreement was signed, it succeeded beyond

the limited horizons of diplomats and arms controllers in that it shocked

the US-Soviet negotiations into a wholly new dimension. The old ground

rules of superpower poker, of incremental gains and minimal concessions,

had been ripped up.[48] In fact, both Reagan and Gorbachev recognized the

posibility of nuclear free world. More, they both made it their major

mutual goal.

The real agreement was reached at the Washington summit in December

1987. The US and the SU signed the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty

and formalized their commitment to a 50 per cent reduction in strategic

offensive arms.[49] The signing of the INF Treaty signalled an end to the

New Cold War.[50]

Following a meeting between Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet

Foreign Minister Schevardnadze in Wyoming in September, Secretary Baker

suggested that the era of containment had perhaps come to an end.[51]

Then followed the Malta summit in December 1989, where President Bush

and Gorbachev recognized common interests in maintaining stability in the

midst of revolutionary political changes and were even explicit about

accepting each others legitimate security interests and role in preserving

European security.[52]

The end of the Cold War solved one great problem for the US - the

nuclear threat from the Soviet side was eliminated. But it caused a series

of other problems. The Cold War ended wih the US and Britain in recession,

the Japanese stock market tumbling by 40 per cent, with the wealth of

Germany devoted to the rescue of its reunited compatriots, and the world

poised for war in the Persian Gulf.[53]

The Post-Cold War Era, 1991 onwards.

With the collapse of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation (WTO) and the

dissolution of the SU after the failed coup, August 1991, the US faced the

another problem - the lack of a coherent American foreign policy. There is

no clear consensus in the US over the threats to the security and economic

well-being of the US.[54]

Bush administrations emphasis was on prudence and pragmatism. The

Bush record of six military interventions in four years is remarkable.[55]

In the invasion of Panama (Operation Just Came) in December 1989, the

Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) in January and February 1991, and

the intervention in Somalia in 1992 (Operation Restore Hope), the US was

motivated by the desire to impose order in the international system.[56]

But neither the foreign nor the defense policy of the Clinton

administration is yet well defined.[57] Through the 1992 presidential

campaign, Clinton emphasized the following new priorities for the post-Cold

War American foreign policy: (1) to relink foreign and domestic policies;

(2) the reassertion of the moral principles most Americans share; (3) to

understand that American security is largely economic.[58] He also

campaigned for the restructuring US military forces. The new military force

must be capable of: (1) nuclear deterrence; (2) rapid deployment; (3)

technology; and (4) better intelligence.[59]

As president, Clinton directed Secretary of Defense Les Aspin to

conduct a review of military requirements. In September 1, 1993, the

Clinton administrations first defense planning document named Bottom-Up

Review (BUR) was announced. The BUR identifies four major sources of

danger to US security: (1) aggression instigated by major regional powers;

(2) the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; (3) the failure of

former communist states to make a succesful transition to democracy; (4) a

failure to maintain a strong and growing US economic base.[60] (Recently,

one more danger has been added: transnational threats.[61] The BUR offers

a force structure oriented around three general missions: (1) waging two

nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts (the two-MRC requirement);

(2) conducting peace operations; and (3) maintaining forward presence in

areas where the US has vital interests.[62] The BUR accords significant

weight to maintaining the overseas military presence of US forces in sizing

Americas post-Cold War force structure. The plan is to retain roughly

100,000 troops in Europe and some 98,000 troops in East Asia.[63]

The BUR received a lot of criticims since it was announced. There is

no logical flow from the top - political guidance based on the imperative

to protect US interests in a new security environment - to the bottom,

i.e., planned forces.[64] The other problem that there are grounds for

suspecting that the force structure selected for the late 1990s is geared

more to meet fiscal goals than strategic ones.[65]

So, it is obvious that the end of the Cold War was not the end of the

threats for US national security , and not the end of the problems for the

US defense planners. More, it seems that it was easier to deal with one big

threat rather than with a complex of relatively small threats.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Brown, S., The Faces of Power: Constancy and Change in United States

Foreign Policy from Truman to Reagan (New York: Columbia University Press,

1983)

2. Clark, M.T., The Future of Clintons Foreign and Defense Policy:

Multilateral Security, Comparative Strategy, Vol.13, 1994, pp.181-195

3. Foerster, Sch., The United States as a World Power: An Overview, in

Foerster, Sch. and Wright, E.N. (eds.), American Defense Policy (6th. ed.

Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1990) pp.165-187

4. Gaddis, J.L., Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar

American National Security Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982)

5. Gray, C.S., Off the Map: Defense Planning After the Soviet Threat,

Strategic Review, Spring 1994, pp.26-35

6.Kegley, Ch.W. and Wittkopf, E.R., American Foregn Policy: Pattern and

Process (3rd. ed. London: Macmillan, 1987)

7. Korb, L.J., The United States, in Murray, D.J. and Viotti, P.R.

(eds.), The Defense Policies of Nations (3rd. ed. Baltimore: The John

Hopkins University Press, 1994), pp.19-56

8. Krepinevich, A.F., The Clinton Defense Program: Assessing the Bottom-Up

Review, Strategic Review, Spring 1994, pp.15-25

9.Leffler, M.P., National Security and US Foreign Policy, in Leffler,

M.P. and Painter, D.S. (eds.), Origins of the Cold War: An International

History (London: Routledge, 1994), pp.15-52

10. Nitze, P.H., Grand Strategy Then and Now: NSC-68 and its Lessons for

the Future, Strategic Review, Winter 1994, pp.12-19

11. Sullivan, R.S., Dealing with the Soviets, in Foerster, Sch. and

Wright, E.N. (eds.), American Defense Policy (6th. ed. Baltimore: The John

Hopkins University Press, 1990), pp.165-187

12. Trachtenberg, M., American Policy and Shifting Nuclear Balance, in

Leffler, M.P. and Painter, D.S. (eds.), Origins of the Cold War: An

International History (London: Routledge, 1994), pp.107-122

13. Walker, M., The Cold War: And the Making of the Modern World (London:

Vintage, 1994)

14. Williams, Ph., U.S. Defense Policy, in Baylis, J., Booth, K.,

Garnett, J., and Williams, Ph., Contemporary Strategy. Volume 2: The

Nuclear Powers (2nd. ed. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1987), pp.28-55

-----------------------

[1] Kegley, Ch.W. and Wittkopf, E.R., American Foreign Policy: Pattern and

Process (3rd. ed. London: Macmillan, 1987), p.56

[2] Korb, L.J., The United States, in Murray, D.J. and Viotti, P.R.

(eds.), The Defense Policies of Nations (3rd. ed. Baltimore: The John

Hopkins University Press, 1994), p.30

[3] Foerster, Sch., The United States as a World Power: An Overview, in

Foerster, Sch. and Wright, E.N. (eds.), American Defense Policy (6th. ed.

Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1990), p.152

[4] Gaddis, J.L., Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of

Postwar American National Security Policy (New York: Oxford University

Press, 1982), p.10

[5] Ibid., p.18

[6] Brown, S., The Faces of Power: Constancy and Change in United States

Foreign Policy from Truman To Reagan (New York: Columbia University Press,

1983), p.31

[7] Ibid., p.34

[8] Leffler, M.P., National Security and US Foreign Policy, in Leffler,

M.P. and Painter, D.S. (eds.), Origins of the Cold War: An International

History (London: Routledge, 1994), p.23

[9] Walker, M., The Cold War: And the Making of the Modern World (London:

Vintage, 1994), p.59

[10] Kegley, Ch.W. and Wittkopf, E.R., op.cit., p.56

[11] Ibid., p.58

[12] Ibid., p.58

[13] Sullivan, R.S., Dealing with the Soviets, in Foerster, Sch. and

Wright, E.N. (eds.), American Defense Policy (6th. ed. Baltimore: The John

Hopkins University Press, 1990), p.165

[14] Ibid., p.169

[15] Ibid., p.170

[16] Leffler, M.P., op.cit., p.34

[17] Nitze, P.H., Grand Strategy Then and Now: NSC-68 and its Lessons for

the Future, Strategic Review, Winter 1994, p.16

[18] Trachtenberg, M., American Policy and the Shifting Nuclear Balance,

in Leffler, M.P. and Painter, D.S. (eds.), Origins of the Cold War: An

International History (London: Routledge, 1994), p.113

[19] Williams, Ph., US Defense Policy, in Baylis, J., Booth, K., Garnett,

J., and Williams, Ph., Contemporary Strategy. Volume 2: The Nuclear Powers

(2nd. ed. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1987), p.34

[20] Brown, S., op.cit., p.58

[21] Korb, L.J., op.cit., p.27

[22] Sullivan, R.S., op.cit., p.172

[23] Kegley, Ch.W. and Wittkopf, E.R., op.cit., p.83

[24] Ibid., p.83

[25] Ibid., p.84

[26] Ibid., p.84

[27] Ibid., p.86

[28] Ibid., p.109

[29] Williams, Ph., op.cit., p.29

[30] Walker, M., op.cit., p.171

[31] Kegley, Ch.W. and Wittkopf, E.R., op.cit., p.61

[32] Ibid., p.63

[33] Gaddis, J.L., op.cit., p.289

[34] Ibid., p.298

[35] Ibid., pp.289-292

[36] Sullivan, R.S., op.cit., p.177

[37] Gaddis, J.L., op.cit., p.295

[38] Korb, L.J., op.cit., p.25

[39] Sullivan, R.S., op.cit., p.179

[40] Ibid., p.181

[41] Kegley, Ch.W. and Wittkopf, E.R., op.cit., p.65

[42] Ibid., p.65

[43] Sullivan, R.S., op.cit., p.181

[44] Kegley, Ch.W. and Wittkopf, E.R., op.cit., p.95

[45] Sullivan, R.S., op.cit., p.182

[46] Ibid., p.184

[47] Walker, M., op.cit., p.290

[48] Ibid., p.294

[49] Sullivan, R.S., op.cit., p.184

[50] Walker, M., op.cit., p.300

[51] Sullivan, R.S., op.cit., p.185

[52] Ibid., p.185

[53] Walker, M., op.cit., p.326

[54] Korb, L.J., op.cit., p.30

[55] Walker, M., op.cit., p.340

[56] Korb, L.J., op.cit., p.54

[57] Clark, M.T., The Future of Clintons Foreign and Defense Policy:

Multilateral Security, Comparative Strategy, Vol.13, 1994, p.181

[58] Ibid., p.182

[59] Ibid., pp. 184-185

[60] Krepinevich, A.F., The Clinton Defense Program: Assessing the Bottom-

Up Review, Strategic Review, Spring 1994, p.16

[61] Gray, C.S., Off the Mapp: Defense Planning After the Soviet Threat,

Strategic Review, Spring 1994, p.31

[62] Krepinevich, A.F., op.cit., p.16

[63] Ibid., p.21

[64] Ibid., p.34

[65] Gray, C.S., op.cit., p.33



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